SRINAGAR, Aug 15: Asserting that destinies of societies are not changed within months rather it takes years, Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed today vowed that he won’t rest till he makes J&K an abode of peace, progress and amity. He said the coalition government has flagged infrastructure restoration particularly communication upgradation as a priority, work on which has been already initiated.Addressing the independence day function at Bakshi stadium here this morning after unfurling the national flag, the Chief Minister said that, he has nurtured a vision of a Jammu & Kashmir which is peaceful, progressive and developed with an ambience of amity, brotherhood and mutual trust. He said the basic sketch of this vision was drawn in 2002 with people voting for a change. Since then, he said, a policy to win hearts and minds was adopted, roads across LoC were opened leading to free movement of people and goods. It was here (Srinagar) that the then Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan and things started moving in right direction, he added.
Mufti Sayeed said the people of the State have exhibited political maturity time and again since 1938 and when they chose a secular, democratic India rather than a theocratic state. He said with some conditions of accession, J&K was granted special status within Indian union which every shade of political opinion respects and commits to protect.
However, the Chief Minister regretted that not much was done during the last ten years since 2005 and his Government has drawn up an ambitious plan to not only give the infrastructure in the State a new fillip-which has been in very bad condition since the deluge of 2014-but change the destiny of its people also. However, he said five months is too little a time to judge the performance of a Government but too adequate to test its intentions which have been displayed amply and clearly. He asked people to remain patient and give Government a chance to prove itself.
The Chief Minister said shortage of funds and resources shall never be a problem for the State adding that the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has instructed his Cabinet Ministers and officers to contribute generously to the development and growth of Jammu and Kashmir. “Today after two decades we have had a Government at the Centre with a full majority and I saw the fractured mandate for the State Assembly as a historic opportunity to bind the various regions of Jammu and Kashmir and put it back on the path of peace and progress”, the Chief Minister said.
Mufti Sayeed said many important projects taken up by him in his previous regime have not been carried forward and completed. “A whole decade passed without even completing the Anantnag-Srinagar stretch of the National Highway, not to mention the widening of the Srinagar- Jammu National Highway which 60 years on still continues to get closed even by few drops of rain”, he said while referring to the poor performance of the previous Governments vis-à-vis building infrastructure in the State.
On the developmental initiatives taken by his Government since its taking over, the Chief Minister said immediately after formation of the Government, he released Rs. 24 crore for road widening of the narrow Athwajan Chowk and took up upgradation and improvement of roads as a top priority. He said work on the Srinagar-Qazigund stretch has been handed over to a new company which shall complete the work by June next year. He said improvement and widening of the Banihal – Udhampur section of the National Highway has also been fast tracked. He said the government has also taken up the issue of declaring Mughal Road as an alternate all weather Highway with the Union Government.
Laying emphasis on restoring connectivity, Mufti Sayeed said that his Government took up the improvement and upgradation of the road infrastructure, which was badly damaged during the September floods last year, as a big challenge. For the first time, he said quality maintenance has been made a focus area and contractors have been asked to maintain a black topped road for three years. This will ensure use of quality material in the 900 Km road. Similarly, 200 Km road length leading to tourist destinations is also being blacktopped.
“People of the State are already witnessing discernible improvement in the 1100 km road network that has been taken up in hand”, Chief Minister said.The Chief Minister said facilitates will be added to further expand and promote the Cross–LoC trade and traffic. He said he would like to see free movement of people and goods across LoC and shall be visiting Salamabad later this month to take the stock of the facilities there.
Mufti Sayeed said that work on phase-II of the Baghlihar Hydel Project is nearing completion and shall be commissioned in September which will add another 450 MWs to State’s energy kitty.The Chief Minister said urban development and beautification of both the capital cities has been taken in hand. To augment the potable water supply to Srinagar and Budgam, Sukhnag and Tangnar Water Supply Schemes on which Rs 269 crore have been spent are nearing completion. Similarly, to cater to the growing potable water demands for Jammu city, Government has formulated an Rs 886 crore Water Supply project from Chenab River. He said to address the growing housing needs of the two cities, Government shall develop adequate housing colonies in Srinagar and Jammu.
Mufti Sayeed said education, health, agriculture, horticulture and power sectors remain the Coalition Government’s top most priority and various new initiatives have been taken in these sectors.In the health sector, the Chief Minister said directions have been issued to upgrade at least two health institutions in each constituency, one as Mother and Child Centre and another as a Model Hospital. He said five new Medical Colleges shall be established at Baramulla, Anantnag, Doda, Kathua and Rajouri for which the land acquisition process has already begun. Similarly, he said Union Government has sanctioned two AIIMS for Jammu and Kashmir regions. He said all health institutions across the state are being fully equipped along with advanced diagnostic facilities to deal with all healthcare related issues thereby considerably reducing the number of referrals to tertiary institutes.
On education, the Chief Minister said the critical sector of society which has suffered decline during last few years is being put back on rails. He said two new Cluster Universities are being established at Srinagar and Jammu and two new engineering colleges are similarly being set up. He said rationalisation of the teaching staff and concept of model schools has been introduced in Government Schools so that these also deliver better results.
Mufti Sayeed said J&K Public Service Commission and Services Selection Board have been made fully functional. He said recruiting agencies have been directed to fast track the process of recruitment and also a new recruitment Policy to speed up filling up of vacancies has been framed. He said the working of the PSC has been automated with online registration of applicants and online submission of forms, thereby reducing the gestation period in selections considerably.
Complimenting the local youth, police personnel and jawans of the Army and other paramilitary forces who rendered selfless service to save people during the floods of September 2014, the Chief Minister said his government is pursuing with Centre a Comprehensive Flood Protection and Management Programme so that the State is fully prepared to meet future weather challenges, especially floods. “We are also specially focussing on construction of an alternate flood channel from Dogripora to Wullar”, he said.
“World Bank shall also assist in the post-flood reconstruction of damaged infrastructure for which Rs 1500 Crore have been approved” he said adding that Rs 400 crore have also been approved for dredging and protection of bunds along River Jhelum.Mufti Sayeed said his government is committed to compensate every victim of floods. “I have promised the affected people including small time traders and I reiterate once again that the Government will compensate them”. He said Government has provided a start-up incentive to un-insured destitute and small-time traders for revival of their business adding that the Government is committed to resurrect the lives of thousands of victims who saw their homes washed away in the floods.
In the Horticulture sector, the Chief Minister said Government has announced several measures to boost the export-oriented industry. To improve quality, he said, the government has decided to revive the Market Intervention Scheme for procuring C-grade fruit and the government will also offer risk cover to farmers and fruit growers against vagaries of weather by offering crop insurance. “We have also announced swift makeover of our Fruit mandis and modern centres where storage, packaging and grading, online marketing and booking and movement of fruit-laden trucks will be undertaken in a smooth manner. The Government has also decided to import root stock from Europe and promote high density plantations in a bid to rejuvenate our orchards”, the Chief Minister said.
Mufti Sayeed said the State Government will take all possible steps to promote state’s handicraft sector. He said he has passed directions for branding and price-tagging of products so that buyers are assured about the quality of our shawls, carpets, paper machie and wood work items.
Earlier, the Chief Minister unfurled the National Flag and took salute at the march past presented by the contingents of J&K Police, CRPF, Fire & Emergency Services, Home Guard, BSF,SSB, Forest Protection Force, ITBP, SDRF,NCC and School Children. He also inspected the guard of Honor presented to him on the occasion.
The artists of Cultural Academy, Information Department and various schools presented a color full bonanza of cultural items and police personnel presented various acrobatic activities on bikes.Begum Mufti Sayeed, Chairman Legislative Council, Haji Inayat Ali, Former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, Ministers of State, Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Asiya Naqash, Member Parliament, Mehbooba Mufti, Chief Secretary Iqbal Khandey, DGP K Rajendra Kumar other dignitaries, officers and large number of people were also present.